Idolizing democracy

Contrary to popular opinion, vox populi is NOT vox dei. Far too long have Christians fought the "culture war" (1) by appealing to numbers. "Polls show that the majority of Americans want restrictions on abortion...oppose gay marriage...want prayer in public schools..." etc., etc., etc.

But he who lives by the poll must be prepared to die by it too. A new Gallup poll shows that for the first time a majority of Americans favor legalizing same sex marriages. Having rested our case on the will of the majority in the past, are we ready to do the same now that its will has shifted?

It should be clear that we must not idolize democracy. The voice of the people is not the voice of God. We must never rest our case on the will of the people. It may not be an inappropriate thing to point out that a majority of Americans believe this or that. In fact it may be a very useful thing to know. But it must never be the basis for deciding moral questions. A "thus saith the Lord" trumps the will of the people every time.

The only legitimate function of democracy is in the selection of governing officials who are charged with the responsibility of administering the affairs of state in terms of God's word. When the weight of judging Israel became too great for Moses, he said to them, "Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads" (Deut. 1:13). The people from each tribe were to choose leaders for their own tribes, but those so chosen were solemnly charged by Moses to judge according to God's law.
Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him. You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's (Deut. 1:16-17).
This last statement is especially significant. "The judgment [Heb., mishpat, judgment, ruling] is God's." This is a reference to the case laws introduced in Exodus 21:1, "Now these are the rules [mishpat] that you shall set before them..." And what follows in the next two chapters is a series of case laws to guide the judges' rulings when litigants come before them. The important thing to note here is that those selected to fill the various offices of government were not to render judgments based on their own authority, or on the authority of majority opinion, but on the authority of what God had already declared as the proper judgment. Theirs was not a legislative function, but a judicial one. Put another way, they were not to make law, they were to govern in terms of God's law already revealed.

Until we recognize this, and until we quit idolizing democracy, both here or abroad, (2) and begin to take our stand on "thus saith the Lord," our efforts in the culture war are doomed to utter failure.

(1) The "culture war" is properly named only in so far as we remember that "culture" is the outworking of a people's religion. The culture war really is at its root a religious war. The adherents of one religion (Naturalism) are seeking the ouster of the adherents of another (Christianity) from all positions of power and influence in society. It's a war they have largely won. They are now simply engaged in expurgating the remnants of a once Christian society.

(2) Do we really want to "make the word safe for democracy" so the majority in a Muslim nation can vote for leaders who will implement sharia?


Anonymous said…
I recently listened to an interview with an old Ukrainian priest who had been tortured under Communist rule. He said, "you people the West make a great mistake in thinking a political system is inherently good in and of itself." When the great majority of Americans are living in disobedience, off God's reservation, outside the Ark he has provided to protect his people(the church) - the systems of man will become corrupted. Democracy will only function well, when it is operated by principled Christian people. Greed, corruption, and selfish living will become the rule when people live seperated from God's grace. While democracy is preferable to other forms of political rule, it can and will become quite ugly when separated from God's will.

Eric Strobel
Doug Enick said…
In his providence, God gives a people a government suited to their virtue and intelligence. An undisciplined, lawless people requires a powerful government to restrain their behavior in order for society to function at all. There will necessarily be a restriction of personal liberty. But where people are self-governed under God, there you find the conditions for maximum personal liberty.

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